Jimmy Evans - How to Overcome Fear
There's a question I want to start with, and the question is this, and that is Jesus never experienced fear any other time in his life. The Bible never records that Jesus ever experienced fear outside of the Garden of Gethsemane here. And so the question here is: why did he experience it now? He had been on a ship that almost shipwrecked one night, almost sank. He wasn't afraid then. Nazareth, they tried to throw him over a cliff. He wasn't afraid then. The Pharisees tried to kill him many times. He wasn't afraid then. Why was he afraid now and not those other times?
Let me give you several reasons why, and the first is identification as a fellow human. Remember Jesus is a human being. It's not that he was. He still is. He's the man, Christ Jesus. He's fully God, but he's also fully man, and on the earth, even though he was God, he still lived in a physical body, and here's what Hebrews 4 says. "We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points", now remember that when you're praying, "in all points, he was tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. For every high priest taken from among men is appointed for men in all things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins. He can have compassion on those who are ignorant and going astray since he himself is also subject to weakness".
You realize if Jesus wouldn't have experienced fear on the earth, he couldn't be compassionate for us when we pray. You know, we all experience fear. I experience fear just about every single day, and it's one of the major themes of my prayer life with God, is, "God, I'm concerned about this. I'm afraid about this". And it's an opportunity every day that we have to go before a throne of grace. Aren't you glad it's the throne of grace? Aren't you glad that we don't have to deserve it and we don't have to have our act together to go before God's throne of grace? We can be falling apart, and he's great with that, because when we go before Jesus and say, "Lord, I'm scared", he says, "I know exactly what you're talking about".
Understand, the second reason that Jesus was afraid is he knew everything that was about to happen to him in detail. You know, a lot of us, we fear because of what we don't know. You know, we're getting on an airplane or we're going someplace or we're thinking about tomorrow, and we don't know what's about to happen, but we fear. And if there's anything worse than not knowing, it's knowing. Jesus knew every slap, every time they were gonna spit on him. They were gonna pluck his beard out. They were gonna put a crown of thorns on him. They were gonna mock him. They were gonna whip him. They were gonna make him carry his cross. They were gonna nail him to the cross, that he would become sin and sickness.
All of the sin of the world, all the sickness of the world would come on his body. The Father would turn away from him, and demons would feast on him for several hours. That's why the sky grew black on Friday afternoon before Jesus died, because God, the Father, didn't want the world to have to witness what was happening to his Son on the cross as he became sin.
Jesus knew every detail, and let me say this. When I go back to the point of saying he can sympathize with us, you say, "What was Jesus afraid of"? He was afraid of rejection. He was afraid of suffering. He was afraid of humiliation. He was afraid of every, he knew every single thing that was about to happen to him. So when we go before Jesus, our high priest in heaven, and we say, "Lord, I'm afraid of being rejected by these people", he's, "I know exactly what you're talking about". "Lord, I'm afraid everybody in my family gets this particular disease, and it's genetic, and I'm afraid that I'm about to get sick, too". "I know exactly what you're talking about". "Lord, I'm afraid of pain". "I know what you're talking about". "I'm afraid of poverty". "I know"... Every single thing that we're afraid of, Jesus experienced that fear right here in this moment.
There's another reason that Jesus felt fear, and that's because he was under absolute attack by Satan in the Garden of Gethsemane, the spirit of fear, and that's what Satan is. He's the ultimate spirit of fear. Remember back in Luke, chapter 4, and in Matthew, chapter 4, it records that there was this time when Jesus fasted for 40 days and then Satan came to tempt him in the wilderness, and Jesus won that battle. And this is Luke 4:13. Interesting. This is about Satan. "When the devil had ended every temptation, he departed from him until an opportune time".
Now, you can always tell the nature of a person by what they do with vulnerable people. A good person sees someone who's vulnerable, and they help them and support them and protect them. That's what Jesus did. That's what good people do. An evil person sees someone vulnerable, and they prey upon that person, and Satan's evil. And it says that Satan lost the contest in the wilderness, so he left Jesus until he became weak, until there was an opportune time, and here's the opportune time. Jesus is about to die. He's being betrayed by one of his disciples. He's crying out in the Garden of Gethsemane, and Satan jumps all over him with the spirit of fear.
2 Timothy 1:7, "God has not given us a spirit of fear". Fear is a spirit. It's not just an emotion. It's a demon spirit. "God has not given us a spirit of fear". God will never use fear in our lives. God will never use fear to lead us or to do anything in our lives. "But of power and of love and of a sound mind". God has not given us a spirit of fear, but power. God gives us power and love and a sound mind. Satan not only puts fear on us, he puts fear on us so he can control us.
Hebrews, chapter 2. "In as much then as the children", that's us, "Have partaken of flesh and blood, being human, as Jesus likewise shared in the same, that through death, he might destroy him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and release those who through the fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage". Jesus died on the cross so he could defeat Satan and take back the power over death, because Satan uses the fear of death to control us all of our lives.
And you say, "Well, I've got a phobia. You know, I've got a particular fear". Almost every fear can be traced back to the fear of death. You say, "Well, I'm afraid of being poor". Well, most of us are not just afraid of being poor. Poverty can cause death. I mean, it can cause starvation and problems. You say, "Well, I'm afraid of heights". No, you're not afraid of heights. You're afraid of splattering, you're not afraid of heights. You're afraid of falling from heights and dying. You say, "Well, I'm afraid of bugs. I'm afraid of critters". You're afraid of dying. That's what bugs and critters do. They can kill you. They can bite you and kill you.
And so it says that Satan, through the fear of death, holds us in bondage all of our lives. Let me tell you the good news. Jesus died on the cross and defeated Satan in death and rose from the grave, and Jesus said to Mary and Martha, "I'm the resurrection and the life, and whoever believes in me will never die". Let me tell you, if you're a Christian, you can't die. You'll never die. I will never experience death. And I'm not saying that my body one day won't wear out and die. I'm saying the minute my eyes close here, they open there. The minute I stop breathing here, I start breathing there. The minute that my senses dull here, they come alive there.
I will never die. I am a Christian. Jesus defeated death for my behalf. I don't have to live in fear. If I live here, I live for him. If I die, that's even better. It's a win-win deal for a believer. But people who fear death and they don't understand what Jesus has done, they live under Satan's control. And so Jesus was under this fear so he could relate to us. He was under this fear so that God could use him as our high priest in heaven and also because Satan was attacking him there. He knew everything that was about to happen to him, but he overcame this spirit of fear that the devil was putting on him.
Now, let me say I know there's a good fear. I know there's a normal fear that God gives us for good in our lives, and it's important that we have a healthy fear for our good, but let me tell you the difference between good fear and bad fear, how to tell the difference. Because sometimes, you know, I'm sitting here, saying, "God will never use fear in your life for any purpose that he's gonna do", and that's true, but there is a healthy fear, and there's a demonic fear. Well, how do you know the difference? Well, here's some ways you can know the difference.
Good fear is circumstantial, but bad fear is perpetual. Circumstantial means you're driving down the street in your car, you see a car coming at you suddenly, and that fear causes you to swerve away and to save your life or to save the life of the people in the car from you. And that fear wasn't there before that happened, and it goes away after it's over with. That's a circumstantial fear. That's good fear. Bad fear is perpetual. It's a spirit of fear. You live with an abiding sense of anxiety that something's about to happen to you. The other shoe is gonna drop. "I'm gonna go broke. I'm gonna die. Harm is gonna come. There's gonna be a terrorist attack. Something is going to happen to harm me", and it's abiding.
Anxiety wears us out and causes us to become depressed. You just can't, your emotions can't handle long-term anxiety without bad things happening to them. God never uses this spirit of fear, this anxiety in our lives, because we can't live that way. We're not designed that way. The second thing about good fear is it's protective, but bad fear is paralyzing. You hear of, like, little ladies picking cars up and moving 'em.
You know, when you're under this incredible fear, that's good fear. That's fear that's there to protect you, but bad fear is paralyzing. It doesn't help you to get out of trouble. It keeps you in trouble. Have you ever had one of those dreams where someone's chasing you, you can't get away? And you're in your underwear. Never mind. That's... I never have those dreams, but some of y'all do. But when you're feeling fear, you're feeling the presence of the devil.
And I'm not saying you're of the devil. He comes to all of us. He came to Jesus himself. When you're weak, when you're struggling, when you're frustrated, when you're confused, he is not a gentleman. He is an evil devil, and on your weakest day, he'll attack you at your weakest moment. He'll attack a child. He'll attack an old lady. He'll attack someone who's infirm. He'll attack someone who's just lost a loved one. He doesn't care. He's evil. And when you sense that fear in your life, understand that's him. That's him, and he's coming to try to control you the way he's controlled. But Jesus is the Prince of Peace.
So how do you overcome fear? Let's talk about this. 4 things.
Number one, admit your fear without shame. How do you overcome fear? Well, what did Jesus do? Jesus took his 11 disciples at that moment. He brought them into the Garden of Gethsemane. He took Peter, James, and John, his 3 best friends. He walked further into the Garden of Gethsemane with them, and he turned to them and said, "I'm dying. I am just unbelievably upset right now, guys. Would you please pray with me"? And then he turned and got down on his knees, and he said, "Daddy, Abba father". "Abba" means "Daddy". He said, "Daddy, I'm scared. I don't want to die on the cross. I don't want to do this. If there's any way, daddy, will you let me out of this deal"? Prayed it 3 times.
Admit it without shame. We all feel fear. All of us feel fear. When I was a kid growing up, you know, I mean, I felt fear all the time, but I didn't know how to deal with fear when I was a kid. Even when I was a young man, I didn't know how to deal with fear, and I was a young man. You know, little girls or young ladies, you know, they get to cry. They get to scream. They get to do things like that. When you're a young boy growing up, you know, you're not very old until someone tells you you're a sissy if you do that. Boys don't get to cry and scream and things like that. You just take it. You know, you just be a man.
And so as a young boy growing up, when I got fearful, I remember the way I responded to it was I was fearful on the inside. But I learned as a young boy you stick your chest out, you stick your chin out, you just kind of get get the stance. "Come on. Come on. Get over here with your bad self. Just try it out. Grab all you think you can ride, and I'll give you some". But on the inside, you're going, "Please don't". But I didn't know, you know, that's just the way I responded.
The more afraid I felt, the more macho I got. But, you know, it doesn't work. And I got to a certain place in the Lord where I realized it's ok to say I'm afraid. With Karen. Many times in my marriage, most of us fight because of fear. We really do. When you're fighting with your spouse, most often you're fighting about your fears. "You're making me feel like that I'm not gonna be protected. You're making me feel like I'm not gonna be provided for. You're making me feel that I'm not a good man, and you're making me afraid".
So rather than being humble and admitting our fears and bringing 'em out in the light, we begin to fight and act macho and tough and things like that. When fear stays in darkness, understand Satan is the prince of darkness. Anything in the darkness is under his domain. You can't kick the devil off his own property, and the darkness is his property. The only thing you can do is take it and put it in the light, because Jesus is full of light. And there's something incredibly healing and powerful about just simply saying, "I'm afraid".
And I'm not ashamed of it. I'm just a human being. This is way beyond me, and I'm not gonna act tough, and I'm not gonna act confident, because I don't feel tough and confident. I feel very, very fearful, and that's all right. Jesus understands. He's merciful with that, and it doesn't mean there's anything wrong with us just because we're feeling fear. I feel fear all the time about a lot of stuff, and I just have to bring it out. I need to talk to Karen about it. I need to talk to my close friends, not everybody. I need to talk to God about it.
Number 2, it's what Jesus did. Number 2, submit your fear to God. Admit your fear, and then submit it. Here's what Jesus did. Jesus came into the garden, and he said, "Father, I'm afraid. Daddy, I don't want to die like this. Please take this cup away, but not my will. Your will be done". Now here's what it means to submit your fear to God. It means, "My feelings are not my master. You're my master". I may be feeling afraid, but I'm not gonna act on that. I'm gonna, the second thing it means is, "Your word is going to tell me what to do. My fear is not gonna tell me what to do. I feel fearful. I feel like running away, but I'm not gonna do anything unless you tell me to do it".
Let me say something as a personal testimony. You know, because I lived many years of my life making most of my decisions based on fear. I regret every decision I've made by fear, and no decision I've ever made by fear has turned out right. Anybody agree with what I'm saying this morning? I've never made a decision by fear that later on I thought, "Thank God I made that decision. That was the right choice". Every time I react by fear... Let me say this. If you want to starve a monster, don't feed him, but if you want to make a monster bigger, just keep feeding it. The more decisions you make by fear, the bigger the spirit of fear gets, and the more that it controls your life. Just because we're feeling something doesn't make it right.
Let me say this. It was real, but was it right? Just because our emotions are real don't mean they're right. When we're feeling, many of us, the greatest regrets that we have in our lives are things that we've done when we were feeling something, and it was real. The lust, the greed, the hate, the self-hate, whatever it might have been, it was real, but it wasn't right. And Jesus came to his father, and he said, "Father, this is real". He was born for that. He was sent for that, but he didn't want to do it. "This is real, Father, but you're gonna tell me what's right".
We need to learn in our lives not to be ruled by our emotions, but to be ruled by God and ruled by God's Word. And the more you act upon faith and what God says, the more free you will be, and the more your life will turn out for good, but the more you do what your emotions say, especially when your emotions are working against the Word of God, you're gonna regret it. I'm saying I've made many decisions based on fear, and I regret every single one of 'em.
Number 3, face your fears by faith and watch them crumble. Jesus prayed that prayer 3 times. "Father, let this cup pass", and he looked up, and the torches of those that were coming to crucify him were coming with Judas at the front of the pack, and that was his answer. Jesus did not run. The disciples ran, but Jesus did not run. He stood his ground, and he went to the cross, and here were his first words after his resurrection to the disciples, Luke 24:36. "As they said these things, Jesus himself stood in the midst of them and said to them, 'peace'". "Peace". Jesus felt fear, and he faced his fears by faith, and he'll never have fear again. He's full of peace.
Now I want you to listen to me. Sometimes God will deliver you from your fears, but a lot of the time, God delivers us in our fears. Sometimes you just have to face your fears. You're afraid of being vulnerable. You're afraid of rejection. You're afraid of intimacy, and you're afraid of loving people, but God wants you to love people. And in the midst of loving people, he's gonna set you free. You're afraid of poverty. You're afraid of lack. You want to prosper, but God wants you to give, and in giving, you'll learn to be free. God doesn't come to us and build us an environment where we never have to face our fear. Sometimes you have to run to the roar to kill the lion.
I got on an airplane one day, and I'm not afraid of flying. I've never been afraid of flying. Airplanes put me to sleep. When I get on an airplane, I love to sleep. And I fly a lot. I fly on Southwest Airlines a lot. It's my airplane. I just let other people fly with me to keep the costs down, and... But I got on an airplane one day, and this poor girl, she was sitting right across the aisle from me, and maybe she was about 25 or 30. Terrified, terrified, terrified. And she had friends sitting right next to her, and her friends were trying to comfort her, you know, 'cause she was terrified.
Now listen. We were sitting at the gate, and she took the airsick bag out and started throwing up. The plane hadn't moved an inch, and she was already using the airsick bag, and I had to fly the entire trip with her over here right next to me, so her friends were saying, "Are you ok"? And she was just sitting there like this. Let me say if you want to get over your fear of flying, don't drive, fly. The first time, you may be like her, use 2 or 3 airsick bags. That's all right. Next time, you'll just use 2. Next time, you'll just use one. Next time, you won't need one. After you've flown a hundred times, you'll be sleeping on the airplane. You won't be afraid anymore.
Because what Satan wants you to do is to live your life in fear so that you're paralyzed and you cannot do what God wants you to do. And sometimes God will deliver us from our fears, but more often, he'll say, "Now you stand up and you run to the roar. You stop letting that demon control your life. By faith, do what I'm telling you to do, and I'm telling you I will rescue you". Jesus didn't run from the cross. He ran to the cross, and he died on it, and when he was resurrected, he came to his disciples and said, "Peace! The fear's gone. It was there for a moment, but God was with me, and I faced my fear, and now peace".
In my life, I dealt with fear in so many areas, and I'm free today. I am truly free from fear in every area of my life, but I remember what it was like to just feel that incredible, overwhelming feeling of dread and panic and just, you know, all these raging emotions telling you to go that way when you ought to be going that way. Here's what helped to set me free, and that is it's not my emotion. Fear is not my emotion. It's not your emotion.
2 Timothy 1:7 says, "God has not given us a spirit of fear", and one of the most important things to be free from fear is to understand I'm dealing with another entity. See, you're not a weakling. You're not a fearful person, I can guarantee you that. You were not born with any fear. God hasn't given us fear. We have a normal kind of a fear that's a protective kind of a thing, that comes and goes. It's circumstantial. We're born with that to protect us. No one is born with a chronic, overwhelming fear of living your life and doing the things that you need to be doing. It's a spirit, and the way you overcome it is to use your authority that God gave you over all the power of the enemy.
According to Luke 10, Matthew 18, God has given you the authority to bind and loose, and you just say, "Spirit of fear, I bind you in the name of Jesus". Every time that fear begins to tell you something, every time it tells you you can't do something, every time it tells you you're gonna fail, every time it tells you that you're gonna be rejected and this and this and this, you say, "In the name of Jesus, I bind you, spirit of fear, and I'm not gonna listen to you, and you're not gonna tell me how to live my life".
Listen. Every time you face your fears, your faith grows stronger, and your fear gets less, but every time you act according to your fear, your fear grows stronger, and your faith grows less. I'm saying to you face your fears by faith in God's word and the authority that God has given you, and you will overcome it, and you will live your life free from that spirit of fear, free to do everything that God has called you to do and free to be full of joy and peace the way God designed, not full of fear. You're a person of faith, and you're an overcomer, and you're gonna overcome this fear in Jesus' name. God bless you. I'll see you next time right here on "The Overcoming Life".